Almost 2,400 Suffolk pupils and staff miss last week of term due to Covid
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Almost 2,400 schoolchildren and staff in Suffolk missed their final week of school due to Covid isolation rules, figures have revealed.
With Suffolk's academic year officially coming to an end on Tuesday, Suffolk County Council has confirmed 2,377 students and staff were in quarantine in the week up to July 21 - a slight drop from the week before.
The number of children forced into quarantine has soared towards the end of the academic year in line with a surge of Covid cases across Suffolk.
In the week up to June 30, there were 960 students and staff across 36 schools in the county who had been sent home as they were identified as a close contact of a positive case.
But this number almost tripled in a fortnight - with 2,622 people overall across 70 schools in quarantine in the seven days up to July 15.
School 'bubble' rules were lifted on Monday, meaning whole classes will no longer be forced to isolate because of a positive case.
Marrisa Reavall, whose son is in Year 3 at Castle Hill Junior School in Ipswich, said her child was "gutted" to not be able to give their teacher their end-of year present after being forced to isolate.
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She said: "It's just not fair on the children as they've already missed out on so much school work.
"The school is so good as they have their own bubbles and have dealt with this so well, but I wish it could go back to normal so kids could play with their friends."
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Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said youngsters should not be forced off school next term unless they are unwell as children are at an "exceptionally low" risk of serious illness from Covid.
He added: "Having the school holidays will undoubtedly break away chains of infection. I would expect infections to rise again when schools return.
"Given we have very high levels of vaccination in Suffolk, it seems we need to move to a better place for when schools go back in September.
"Unless a child is physically unwell, we need to get to a point where they are not sent home. Children are at exceptionally low risk from Covid. We shouldn't be over-fixated on contact tracing."